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Protests last through the night in Charlotte, N.C., after police shooting

Protests turned violent after an African-American man was shot and killed by a police officer in Charlotte, N.C. Is there a path forward in the cycle of killings and protests?

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    In this frame from video provided by WBTV, a police vehicle is damaged after protests broke out Tuesday, in Charlotte, N.C., following a fatal shooting of a black man by police.
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Protests erupted on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., after the fatal shooting of a black man by police.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered on Tuesday evening to protest the death of Keith Lamont Scott, shutting down an interstate highway and facing off against riot police with water bottles and large sticks. The Charlotte Police Department said on Twitter that about a dozen of its officers were injured, and video footage appeared to show protesters kicking out the windows of a squad car.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for calm.

"The community deserves answers and [a] full investigation will ensue," she wrote on Twitter. "I want answers too."

The unrest signals a revival of passions over the question of police brutality against African-Americans. The Charlotte protest came just hours after demonstrators in Tulsa, Okla., staged a peaceful protest over the killing of another black man, Terence Crutcher, by police in that city last week. Mr. Crutcher, whose death was captured on two separate police videos released on Monday, was unarmed at the time.

In Charlotte, Mr. Scott was killed after officers arrived at his apartment complex to serve another suspect with an outstanding warrant. Police say that after Scott got out of his car with a gun, officers considered him to pose "an imminent deadly threat."

Shakeala Baker, a neighbor, told Reuters that she had seen Scott waiting for his child in the parking lot of his apartment complex on previous afternoons. On Tuesday, she watched as emergency medics tended to him after he was shot.

"This is just sad," said Ms. Baker. "I get tired of seeing another black person shot every time I turn on the television. But [police are] scared for their own lives. So if they're scared for their lives, how are they going to protect us?"

Charlotte police say officer Brentley Vinson, who is African-American, discharged his weapon at Scott, striking him. Officer Vinson, who joined the department in July 2014, has since been placed on paid administrative leave. The department says that detectives recovered a gun at the scene and were interviewing witnesses.

In August, The Christian Science Monitor's Henry Gass reported that despite the unrest that marred protests over police brutality in Milwaukee following a similar incident that month, both police and community leaders there are working to find a path forward together:

The restraint on the police side has been matched by a restraint among community leaders, who have not blamed the police, but said the upheaval is the product of systemic inequalities within Milwaukee’s black communities that have built over decades.

That focus on deeper issues matches a similar shift in the broader Black Lives Matter movement, which earlier this month released a platform of policy demands that goes far beyond protests against police brutality.

The mounting message is that police shootings, and the violent reactions they provoke, should not be reduced to a binary police-versus-blacks conflict, says Shawn Alexander, a professor of African and African-American studies at the University of Kansas.

Instead, these incidents should serve as a warning flare, pointing to how and where progress toward racial equality has stalled.

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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